Marc Albrighton was has talked about the time when his boyhood club Aston Villa broke a promise to offer him a new contract. Despite assurances from manager Paul Lambert that he would be given a new deal, Albrighton had to come to terms with a bitter Villa snub in the summer of 2014. Albrighton picked himself up and played a part in Leicester City’s remarkable Premier League title triumph less than two years after his claret and blue rejection.
On Paul Lambert’s Appointment and the Dressing Room of the club
Marc Albrighton said “When Lambert was appointed I was really pleased because I’d heard he was very much like Martin O’Neill. O’Neill liked me. I’d looked at Lambert’s teams previously. He likes hard working players and I thought I can’t really go far wrong here. It was probably the opposite if I’m honest. It was a transitional period at Villa, it was difficult for anyone to come in. I still don’t know to this day who was making what decsions. Who was making the signings? A lot of players came in that weren’t good enough. There was one in five or six that were good enough. It just wasn’t a good dressing room. It was a toxic dressing room. It was very separated. A lot of the big names had gone, the names that held it all together. It never went well. There were a few things that stick out for me. I was walking round the place and never really got the feeling that he ever wanted me as part of his plans.
On him not getting a decent run in the team
Marc Albrighton said “It had been so long playing second fiddle to Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, James Milner ,then all of a sudden I still can’t get in the team. Don’t get me wrong there were some good players at the time as well. Andi Weimann was banging goals in left, right and centre, Christian Benteke was there, Gabby Agbonlahor was there and those three players were sort of, I wouldnt say ‘undroppable’, but they never came out of the team. I never saw a way in for me then, even if we went on a losing streak he’d never think, I’ll give them a rest and freshen things up. I never felt like ‘I’ve got a chance this weekend’. As it went on it just became like ‘It will take six or seven injuries for me to get a game here’. Once that sets in it’s hard to cope with mentally.”
On the Club offering him to Wigan
Marc Albrighton said “From my point of view I was injured as well so that probably didn’t help my cause. Once I recovered from my injury he said ‘Right you can go out on loan’. I think it was Wigan and Derby that were interested in me at the time. I got a phone call off Nigel Clough. I loved everything I heard from him on the phone. I hadn’t heard about Wigan at the time. I thought if Villa are willing to do it and they can arrange the Derby deal that’s great. I can go and get some football for a month and then come back after Christmas and hit the ground running. I ended up gong into training and speaking to Lambert about the phone call that I’d had from Derby and he said ‘You’re going to go to Wigan’. Straight away I thought why? Derby were above Wigan in the league at the time. I thought Derby suited me more location wise and with the squad they had. I thought ‘It’s a strange one’ but he was persistent that I go to Wigan. Whether it was the fact he was good friends with Owen Coyle and that had a part to play I’m not sure. But I ended up going to Wigan and to be fair I’ve not got a bad word to say about my time there. I was only there a month but it sort of opened my eyes up a bit to the smaller football clubs, the family side of things. As good a club as Villa is, and taking nothing away from Villa, because it’s such a big club people get lost there and you don’t really see everyone, whereas Wigan because it’s so small, it was such a good feel around that place.
On Coming Back to Villa and Promise of a New Contract
Marc Albrighton said “To be honest I came back from Wigan and I think we did have a few injuries. I’d done well at Wigan, I’d played a couple of reserve games back here and he put me straight in. I actually played quite a few games in that second half of the season. I’d been doing well. knew my contract was up. I went in for a couple of conversations with the manager and every conversation I had was positive. You’re doing absolutely fantastic for me, keep doing what you’re doing, don’t worry about your contract. It will all be sorted at the end. Don’t stress about it, just keep playing your football’. Then it kept getting closer and closer towards the end of the season. Still nothing.”
The Heartbreak of not getting another contract from Villa
Marc Albrighton said “Two days after the season finished, my agent phoned me and said ‘There’s nothing on the table from Villa’. So I said, ‘What do you mean there’s nothing?’ He was like ‘There’s literally not an offer, there’s not an offer there. You’ve got to go to another club. I’ve spoken to a few clubs just in case this scenario happened and they’d like to speak to you’. At the time I was just like, ‘Can I call you back once I’ve taken all this in?’ In my head, definitely naively, I trusted everything that they said. I don’t know whose decision it was, I still don’t know now. In my head it was, ‘Yeah my contract’s sorted, he said it would be sorted towards the end of the season, keep playing your football, keep doing what you’re doing, keep doing well’. So that’s what I was doing and I just expected a contract. I didn’t expect anything massive because I hadn’t been playing every game, I’d only played bit parts. The whole station was a bit of a blur because I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t see it coming. It just came as a total shock.”
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